Is taking a social media break this Christmas the answer to getting our digital habits under control? A life coach explains why (and how) to do it.
The past decade has been a wild one for social media. It’s hard to believe that Instagram wasn’t even around 10 years ago – especially when you consider how big of a role the platform now plays in our day to day lives.
There’s no denying that social media has given us some pretty good things in that time. From the youth climate movement to the emergence of the body positivity community, platforms like Instagram have given us the spaces to connect with other people, build friendships and make change.
On the other hand, however, there’s also a lot of negatives which come with our reliance on these digital platforms. Google “social media problems” and you’ll see exactly what I mean. From increased rates of anxiety and depression to a reduced attention span and poor-quality sleep, the prevalence of social media in our society has been linked to a whole library of problems. As we move into the next decade, this issue is playing on many of our minds – is it time to quit?
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m not quite ready to go cold turkey on social media just yet (even if it is Christmas). So, what’s the answer?
According to life coach Rebecca Lockwood, a social media detox – or break, in simpler terms – could be the answer to our problems, especially over the festive period.
“It is time to come back to reality and leave your phone alone,” Lockwood says. “In 2020 we are going to see a rise of people coming to the realisation that experiences and being present in those moments create a far richer life than flocking to social media platforms and being glued to smartphones.”
She continues: “The festive period is the perfect time to take time off devices to give you the opportunity to be present with loved ones, experience the magic of Christmas spirit and catch up with family and friends you haven’t seen all year. Putting phones down gives the extra room for laughs and the time to make memories.”
To help you on your social media detox journey – whether that’s just for the festive period or beyond in 2020 – Lockwood has shared her top tips for reducing our social media usage over the next couple of weeks.
1. Only check your phone at allocated times
Instead of checking your phone without even realising it, make a conscious decision when and where you’ll log on and have a scroll.
“A top tip I give to my clients is to delete social media apps on their phone to avoid the aimless scrolling,” Lockwood explains. “Allocate specific times to go on your computer or tablet to update and connect online instead, rather than constantly checking throughout your day.”
By adding in that extra step between you and your social media feed, you’ll make it just that little bit harder to aimlessly scroll through your Instagram.
2. Turn off your notifications
Liberate yourself from the constant dinging of notifications by removing all alerts from your phone – you’ll thank yourself later.
Not only does turning off your notifications give you the luxury of checking your messages and updates when you’re actually prepared to, it takes away that demanding, niggling presence and allows you to make a conscious decision to go online.
3. Leave your phone in a completely different room
Having your phone in easy reaching distance of your person makes it incredibly easy to fall into a habit, so leaving the device in a different room is a great way to break it.
“Have you ever been sat with a friend or family member to find yourself sat scrolling through your social media feed? This is a sure sign it has now become a habit you may not even be aware of,” Lockwood explains.
“Leave your phone in a different room when you are spending quality time with loved ones and over the dinner table to make space for real connections and conversations.”
At the end of the day, taking a break from social media and doing a digital detox this Christmas isn’t just for the sake of connecting with friends and family (although that’s a massive plus) – it’s essential for our mental and physical health. Disconnecting from social media gives us the chance to reconnect with other parts of our lives we would otherwise be neglecting. Get outside, spend time interacting with others and practice mindfulness – you’ll thank yourself later.